Official language(s) De jure: None
Nevada is a state located in the western region of the United States. The capital is Carson City and the largest city is Las Vegas. The state's nickname is Silver State, due to the large number of silver deposits that were discovered and mined there. "Sagebrush State" and "Battle Born State" are it's alternative nicknames. In 1864, Nevada became the 36th state to enter the union, and the phrase "Battle Born" on the state flag reflects the state's entry on the Union side during the American Civil War. Its first nonnative settlement was called Mormon Station.
Nevada is the seventh-largest state in area, and geographically covers the Mojave Desert in the south to the Great Basin in the north. It is the most arid state in the Union. Approximately 86% of the state's land is owned by the U.S federal government under various jurisdictions both civilian and military. As of 2008, there were about 2.6 million residents, with over 85% of the population residing in the metropolitan areas of Las Vegas and Reno. The state is well known for its easy marriage and divorce proceedings, entertainment, legalized gambling and, in 8 out of its 16 counties, legalized active brothels.
Etymology and pronunciation
The name Nevada comes from the Spanish "Nevada" [neˈβaða], meaning "snowfall", after the Sierra Nevada ("snow-covered mountains") mountain range.
Most non-Westerners pronounce the name /nəˈvɑːdə/, with the /ɑː/ of "father" after the imagined pronunciation of the Spanish, which annoys locals. The most famous case of this was George W. Bush's faux pas during his campaign for the 2004 US Presidential Election. Vindication later came when President Bush campaigned at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on June 18, 2004. The president opened his talk by proclaiming that "It's great to be here in /nəˈˈvædə/," the crowd roaring its approval when he light-heartedly noted "You didn't think I'd get it right, did ya?". President Bush subsequently carried the state in the election.
Digitally colored elevation map of NevadaFurther information: List of Nevada counties
Nevada is almost entirely within the Basin and Range Province, and is broken up by many north-south mountain ranges. Most of these ranges have endorheic valleys between them, which belies the image portrayed by the term Great Basin.
Pinion Juniper forests cover large areas of the north and central parts of the state.
Sunrise over Reno
Basin and Range scenery near RachelMuch of the northern part of the state is within the Great Basin, a mild desert that experiences hot temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. Occasionally, moisture from the Arizona Monsoon will cause summer thunderstorms; Pacific storms may blanket the area with snow. The state's highest recorded temperature was 125 °F (52 °C) in Laughlin (elevation of 605 feet (184 m)) on June 29, 1994. The coldest recorded temperature was −52 °F (−47 °C) set in San Jacinto in 1972, in the northeastern portion of the state.
The Humboldt River crosses from east to west across the northern part of the state, draining into the Humboldt Sink near Lovelock. Several rivers drain from the Sierra Nevada eastward, including the Walker, Truckee and Carson rivers.
Mountains west of Las Vegas in the Mojave DesertThe mountain ranges, some of which have peaks above 13,000 feet (4,000 m), harbor lush forests high above desert plains, creating sky islands for endemic species. The valleys are often no lower in elevation than 3,000 feet (900 m).
The southern third of the state, where the Las Vegas area is situated, is within the Mojave Desert. The area receives less rain in the winter but is closer to the Arizona Monsoon in the summer. The terrain is also lower, mostly below 4,000 feet (1,200 m), creating conditions for hot summer days and cool to chilly winter nights (due to temperature inversion).
Nevada and California have by far the longest diagonal line (in respect to the cardinal directions) as a state boundary at just over 400 miles (640 km). This line begins in Lake Tahoe nearly 4 miles (6 km) offshore (in the direction of the boundary), and continues to the Colorado River where the Nevada, California, and Arizona boundaries merge 12 miles (19 km) southwest of the Laughlin Bridge.
The largest mountain range in the southern portion of the state is the Spring Mountain Range, just west of Las Vegas. The state's lowest point is along the Colorado River, south of Laughlin.
Nevada has 172 mountain summits with 2,000 feet (609m) of prominence. Nevada ranks second in the US, behind Alaska, and ahead of California, Montana, and Washington. This makes Nevada the "Most Mountainous" state in the country, at least by this measure.
Nevada is made up of mostly desert and semiarid climate regions, daytime summer temperatures sometimes may rise as high as 115 °F (46 °C) and nighttime winter temperatures may reach as low as −10 °F (−23.3 °C). The winter season in the southern part of the state, however, tends to be of short duration and mild. Most parts of Nevada receive scarce precipitation during the year. Most rain falls on the lee side (east and northeast slopes) of the Sierra Nevada Range. The average annual rainfall per year is about 7 inches (18 cm); the wettest parts get around 40 inches (102 cm).
Las Vegas: Summer daytime highs average 94-104 degrees, and summer nighttime lows average 69-77 degrees. Winter daytime highs average 57-69 degrees, and winter nighttime lows average 37-47 degrees.
Reno: Summer daytime highs average 81-91 degrees, and summer nighttime lows average 43-51 degrees. Winter daytime highs average 45-57 degrees, and winter nighttime lows average 20-29 degrees.
Elko: Summer daytime highs average 78-89 degrees, and summer nighttime lows average 38-48 degrees. Winter daytime highs average 37-51 degrees, and winter nighttime lows average 13-26 degrees.
Nevada is mostly made up of desert vegetation regions, which include plants like short grasses, low bushes, cacti, and shrub-like trees like the mesquite.
Nevada is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. Carson City is officially a consolidated municipality; however, for many purposes under state law it is considered to be a county. As of 1919 there were 17 counties in the state, ranging from 146 to 18,159 square miles (378 to 47,032 km²). In 1969 Ormsby County was dissolved and the consolidated municipality of Carson City was created by the Legislature in its place co-terminous with the old boundaries of Ormsby County.
County name County seat Year founded 2000 population Percent of total Area (sq. mi.) Percent of total
Carson City Carson City 1861 52,457 2.63 % 146 0.13 %
Churchill Fallon 1861 23,982 1.20 % 5,023 4.54 %
Clark Las Vegas 1908 1,375,765 68.85 % 8,091 7.32 %
Douglas Minden 1861 41,259 2.06 % 738 0.67 %
Elko Elko 1869 45,291 2.27 % 17,203 15.56 %
Esmeralda Goldfield 1861 971 0.05 % 3,589 3.25 %
Eureka Eureka 1869 1,651 0.08 % 4,180 3.78 %
Humboldt Winnemucca 1856/1861 16,106 0.81 % 9,658 8.74 %
Lander Battle Mountain 1861 5,794 0.29 % 5,519 4.99 %
Lincoln Pioche 1866 4,165 0.21 % 10,637 9.62 %
Lyon Yerington 1861 34,501 1.73 % 2,016 1.82 %
Mineral Hawthorne 1911 5,071 0.25 % 3,813 3.45 %
Nye Tonopah 1864 32,485 1.63 % 18,159 16.43 %
Pershing Lovelock 1919 6,693 0.33 % 6,068 5.49 %
Storey Virginia City 1861 3,399 0.17 % 264 0.24 %
Washoe Reno 1861 339,486 16.99 % 6,551 5.93 %
White Pine Ely 1869 9,181 0.46 % 8,897 8.05 %
Total counties: 17 Total 2000 population: 1,998,257 Total state area: 110,552 square miles
Humboldt was designated as a County in 1856 by Utah Territorial Legislature and again in 1861 by the new Nevada Legislature.
Main article: History of Nevada
See History of Utah, History of Las Vegas, and the discovery of the first major U.S. deposit of silver ore in Comstock Lode under Virginia City, Nevada in 1859.
Sculpture representing a steam locomotive, in Ely, Nevada. Early locomotives played an important part in Nevada's mining industry Separation from Utah Territory
See also: Nevada in the American Civil War
On March 2, 1861, the Nevada Territory separated from the Utah Territory and adopted its current name, shortened from Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy range").
The separation of the territory from Utah was important to the federal government because of the Nevada population's political leanings, while the population itself was keen to be separated because of animosity (and sometimes violence) between the non-Mormons who dominated Nevada, and the Mormons who dominated the rest of the Utah Territory. Animosity between non-Mormon settlers and Mormons was particularly high after the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857 and the Utah War in 1857-58.
The 1861 southern boundary is commemorated by Nevada Historical Markers 57 and 58 in Lincoln and Nye counties.
See also: Nevada in the American Civil War
Eight days prior to the presidential election of 1864, Nevada became the 36th state in the union. Statehood was rushed to the date of October 31 to help ensure Abraham Lincoln's reelection on November 8 and post-Civil War Republican dominance in Congress, as Nevada's mining-based economy tied it to the more industrialized Union.
Nevada achieved its current southern boundaries on May 5, 1866 when it absorbed the portion of Pah-Ute County in the Arizona Territory west of the Colorado River, essentially all of present day Nevada south of the 37th parallel. The transfer was prompted by the discovery of gold in the area, and it was thought by officials that Nevada would be better able to oversee the expected population boom. This area includes most of what is now Clark County.
In 1868 another part of the western Utah Territory, whose population was seeking to avoid Mormon dominance, was added to Nevada in the eastern part of the state, setting the current eastern boundary.
Mining shaped Nevada's economy for many years (see Silver mining in Nevada). When Mark Twain lived in Nevada during the period described in Roughing It, mining had led to an industry of speculation and immense wealth. However, both mining and population declined in the late 19th century. However, the rich silver strike at Tonopah in 1900, followed by strikes in Goldfield and Rhyolite, again put Nevada's population on an upward trend.
Gambling and labor
Gambling erupted once more following a recession in the early 20th century, helping to build the city of Las VegasUnregulated gambling was common place in the early Nevada mining towns but outlawed in 1909 as part of a nation-wide anti-gaming crusade. Because of subsequent declines in mining output and the decline of the agricultural sector during the Great Depression, Nevada re-legalized gambling on March 19, 1931, with approval from the legislature. At the time, the leading proponents of gambling expected that it would be a short term fix until the state's economic base widened to include less cyclical industries. However, re-outlawing gambling has never been seriously considered since the industry has become Nevada's primary source of revenue today.
The Hoover Dam, located outside Las Vegas near Boulder City, was constructed in the years 1932–1935. Thousands of workers from across the country came to build the dam, and providing for their needs in turn required many more workers. The boom in population is likely to have fueled the re-legalization of gambling, alike present-day industry. Both Hoover Dam and later war industries such as the Basic Magnesium Plant first started the growth of the southern area of the state near Las Vegas. Over the last 75 years, Clark County in Southern Nevada has been experiencing strong population growth and today encompasses most of the state's residents.
The Nevada Test Site, 65 miles (105 km) Northwest of the City of Las Vegas, was founded on January 11, 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons. The site is composed of approximately 1,350 square miles (3,500 km2) of desert and mountainous terrain. Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a one kiloton (4 terajoule) bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat on January 27, 1951. The last atmospheric test was conducted on July 17, 1962 and the underground testing of weapons continued until September 23, 1992. The location is known for the highest amount of concentrated nuclear detonated weapons in the U.S.
Over 80% of the state's area is owned by the federal government. The primary reason for this is that homesteads were not permitted in large enough sizes to be viable in the arid conditions that prevail throughout desert Nevada. Instead, early settlers would homestead land surrounding a water source, and then graze livestock on the adjacent public land, which is useless for agriculture without access to water (this pattern of ranching still prevails). The deficiencies in the Homestead Act as applied to Nevada were probably due to a lack of understanding of the Nevada environment, although some firebrands (so-called "Sagebrush Rebels") maintain that it was due to pressure from mining interests to keep land out of the hands of common folk. This debate continues to be argued among some state historians today.
Census Pop. %±
1860 6,857 —
1870 42,941 526.2%
1880 62,266 45.0%
1890 47,355 −23.9%
1900 42,335 −10.6%
1910 81,875 93.4%
1920 77,407 −5.5%
1930 91,058 17.6%
1940 110,247 21.1%
1950 160,083 45.2%
1960 285,278 78.2%
1970 488,738 71.3%
1980 800,493 63.8%
1990 1,201,833 50.1%
2000 1,998,257 66.3%
Est. 2009 2,643,085 32.3%
Demographics of Nevada (csv)
By race White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*
2000 (total population) 86.11% 7.67% 2.17% 5.67% 0.83%
2000 (Hispanic only) 18.78% 0.44% 0.45% 0.25% 0.11%
2005 (total population) 84.25% 8.58% 2.15% 6.87% 0.92%
2005 (Hispanic only) 22.31% 0.69% 0.51% 0.30% 0.12%
Growth 2000–05 (total population) 18.23% 35.25% 20.23% 46.27% 33.72%
Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) 11.17% 31.96% 16.39% 46.36% 33.55%
Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 43.57% 88.97% 34.74% 44.46% 34.84%
* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
According to the Census Bureau's 2007 estimate, Nevada has an estimated population of 2,565,382 which is an increase of 92,909, or 3.5%, from the prior year and an increase of 516,550, or 20.8%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 81,661 people (that is 170,451 births minus 88,790 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 337,043 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 66,098 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 270,945 people. According to the 2006 census estimate, Nevada is the eighth fastest growing state in the nation.
The center of population of Nevada is located in southern Nye County. In this county, the unincorporated town of Pahrump, located 60 miles (97 km) west of Las Vegas on the California state line, has grown 26 times in size from 1980 to 2000. In the year 2006, the town may have over 50,000 permanent residents. Las Vegas was America's fastest-growing city and metropolitan area from 1960 to 2000, but has grown from a gulch of 100 people in 1900 to 10,000 by 1950 to 100,000 by 1970 to have 2.5 million in the metro area today.
Nevada Population Density MapAccording to the census estimates racial distribution was as follows: 65% White American, 7.1% African-American, 6% Asian-American (estimates placed them at 10%), 2% others (American Indians and Pacific Islanders) and the remaining 20% were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.
Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California, which led some locals to feel that their state is being "Californicated". Nevada also has a sizable Basque ancestry population. In Douglas and Pershing Counties, a plurality of residents are of Mexican ancestry with Clark County (Las Vegas) being home to over 200,000 Mexican Americans alone; Nye County and Humboldt County have a plurality of Germans; and Washoe County has many of Irish ancestry. Las Vegas is home to rapid-growing ethnic communities like Scandinavians, Italians, Poles, American Jews and Armenians.
Largely African-American sections of Las Vegas ("the Meadows") and Reno can be found. Many current African-American Nevadans are newly transplanted residents from California, the Midwest, or the East Coast. However, employment in the US Armed forces, hotels and domestic services attracted black Americans ever since the 1950s.
Since the California Gold Rush of the 1850s brought thousands of Chinese miners to Washoe county, Asian Americans lived in the state. They were followed by few hundreds of Japanese farm workers in the late 1800s. By the late 20th century, many immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, Philippines and recently from India and Vietnam, came to the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The city now has one of America's most prolific Asian-American communities, with a mostly Chinese and Taiwanese area known as "Chinatown" west of I-15 on Spring Mountain Boulevard, and an "Asiatown" shopping mall for Asian customers located at Charleston Avenue/Paradise Boulevard.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 16.19% of Nevada's population aged 5 and older speak Spanish at home, while 1.59% speak Filipino and 1% speak Chinese languages; the majority of those who do not speak English at home live in ethnic sections of Central Las Vegas.
6.8% of the state's population were reported as under 5, 26.3% under 18, and 13.6% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.7% of the population. As a result of its rapid population growth, Nevada has a higher percentage of residents born outside of the state than anywhere else in the entire country. Las Vegas was a major destination for immigrants from South Asia and Latin America seeking employment in the gaming and hospitality industries during the 1990s and 2000s, but farming and construction is the biggest employer of immigrant labor.
From about the 1940s until 2003, Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the US percentage-wise. Between 1990 and 2000, Nevada's population increased 66.3%, while the USA's population increased 13.1%. Over two thirds of the population of the state live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Major religious affiliations of the people of Nevada are:
Roman Catholic – 27%
Mainline – 11%
Evangelical – 13%
Other Protestant – 2%
Latter-day Saint/ Mormon – 11%
Muslim – 2%
Jewish – 1%
Other Religions – 1%
Unaffiliated – 20%
The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 331,844; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 116,925; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 40,233. 77,100 Nevadans belong to Jewish congregations.
Lake Tahoe on the Nevada, California borderThe Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Nevada's total state product in 2007 was $127 billion. Resort areas such as Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Laughlin attract visitors from around the nation and world. In FY08 the total of 266 casinos with gaming revenue over $1m for the year, brought in revenue of $12 billion in gaming revenue, adn $13 billion in non-gaming revenue. A review of gaming statistics can be found at Nevada gaming area.
The state's Per capita personal income in 2007 was $39,853, ranking sixteenth in the nation.
Its agricultural outputs are cattle, hay, alfalfa, dairy products, onions, and potatoes. Its industrial outputs are tourism, mining, machinery, printing and publishing, food processing, and electric equipment.
In portions of the state outside of the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas, mining and cattle ranching are the major economic activities. By value, gold is by far the most important mineral mined. In 2004, 6.8 million ounces of gold worth $2.84 billion were mined in Nevada, and the state accounted for 8.7% of world gold production (see Gold mining in Nevada). Silver is a distant second, with 10.3 million ounces worth $69 million mined in 2004 (see Silver mining in Nevada). Other minerals mined in Nevada include construction aggregates, copper, gypsum, diatomite and lithium. Despite its rich deposits, the cost of mining in Nevada is generally high, and output is very sensitive to world commodity prices.
As of January 1, 2006 there were an estimated 500,000 head of cattle and 70,000 head of sheep in Nevada.Most of these animals forage on rangeland in the summer, with supplemental feed in the winter. Calves are generally shipped to out-of-state feedlots in the fall to be fattened for market. Over 90% of Nevada's 484,000 acres (1,960 km2) of cropland is used to grow hay, mostly alfalfa, for livestock feed.
Further information: Nevada locations by per capita income
Nevada is also one of only a few states with no personal income tax and no corporate income tax.
The state sales tax in Nevada is variable depending upon the county. The minimum statewide tax rate is 6.85%, with five counties Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, and Mineral charging this minimum amount. All other counties assess various option taxes, making the combined state/county sales taxes rate in one county as high as 8.1%, which is the amount charged in Clark county. Sales tax in the other major counties: Carson at 7.475%, Washoe at 7.725%. It should be noted that the minimum Nevada sales tax rate changed on 1 July 2009.
Nevada has by far the most hotel rooms per capita in the United States. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association there were 187,301 rooms in 584 hotels (of 15 or more rooms). The state is ranked just below CA,TX,FL, and NY in total number of rooms, but those states have much larger populations. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, far below the national average of one hotel room per 67 residents.
Prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada in licensed brothels, but only counties with populations under 400,000 residents have the option to legalize it. Although prostitution employs roughly 300 women as independent contractors, and not a major part of the Nevada economy, it is a very visible endeavor. Of the 14 counties that are permitted to legalize prostitution under state law, about 8 have chosen to legalize brothels. State law prohibits prostitution in Clark County (which contains Las Vegas),and Washoe County (which contains Reno).However, prostitution is legal in Storey county which is part of the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area.
Amtrak's California Zephyr train uses the Union Pacific's original transcontinental railroad line in daily service from Chicago to Emeryville, California serving Elko, Winnemucca, Sparks, and Reno. Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches also provide connecting service from Las Vegas to trains at Needles, California, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield, California; and from Stateline, Nevada, to Sacramento, California.
The Union Pacific Railroad has some railroads in the north and in the south. Greyhound Lines provides some bus services.
U.S. Route 50, also known as "The Loneliest Road in America."Interstate 15 passes through the southern tip of the state, serving Las Vegas and other communities. I-215 and spur route I-515 also serve the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Interstate 80 crosses through the northern part of Nevada, roughly following the path of the Humboldt River from Utah in the east and passing westward through Reno and into California. It has a spur route, I-580. Nevada also is served by several federal highways: US 6, US 50, US 93, US 95 and US 395. There are also 189 Nevada state highways. Nevada is one of a few states in the U.S. that does not have a continuous interstate highway linking its two major population centers. Even the non-interstate federal highways aren't contiguous between the Las Vegas area and Reno area, though they are well marked by signs showing where to turn.
The state is one of just a few in the country that allow semi-trailer trucks with three trailers—what might be called a "road train" in Australia. However, American versions are usually smaller, in part because they must ascend and descend some fairly steep mountain passes.
Citizens Area Transit (CAT) is the public transit system in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The agency is the largest transit agency in the state and operates a network of bus service across the Las Vegas Valley, including the use of double-decker buses on the Las Vegas Strip and several outlying routes. RTC RIDE operates a system of local transit bus service throughout the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. Other transit systems in the state include Carson City's JAC. Most other counties in the state do not have public transportation at all.
Additionally, a four mile monorail system provides public transportation in the Las Vegas area. The Las Vegas Monorail line services several casino properties and the Las Vegas Convention Center on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip, running near Paradise Road, with a possible future extension to McCarran International Airport. Several hotels also run their own monorail lines between each other, which are typically several blocks in length.
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is the busiest airport serving Nevada. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport (formerly known as the Reno Cannon International Airport) is the other major airport in the state.
Law and government
The current Governor of Nevada is Jim Gibbons (Republican); the governor of Nevada is limited by the Nevada Constitution to two four-year terms in office, by election or succession (lifetime limit). Nevada's two U.S. senators are Harry Reid (Democrat) and John Ensign (Republican), who, by the United States Constitution, have no term limits. Nevada's three U.S. Representatives are Republican Dean Heller and Democrats Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus.
Further information: List of Nevada Governors; Map of Congressional Districts
A view of the Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson CityThe Nevada Legislature is a bicameral body divided into an upper house Senate and a lower house Assembly. Members of the Senate serve for four years, and members of the Assembly serve for two years. Both houses of the Nevada Legislature will be impacted by term limits starting in 2010, as Senators and Assemblymen/women will be limited to a maximum of 12 years service in each house (by appointment or election which is a lifetime limit) - this provision in the constitution was recently upheld for legislators by the Supreme Court of Nevada in a unanimous decision (7-0), so term limits will be in effect starting in 2010. Each session of the Legislature meets for a constitutionally mandated 120 days in every odd-numbered year, or longer if the Governor calls a special session. Currently, the Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party (12 to 9 majority) and the Assembly is controlled by the Democratic Party (28 to 14 majority).
Nevada is one of the few U.S. states without a system of intermediate appellate courts.
The state supreme court is the Supreme Court of Nevada. Unlike other state supreme courts, the Supreme Court of Nevada lacks the power of discretionary review, so it must hear all appeals; as a result, Nevada's judicial system is congested.
There have been several articles accusing judges in Nevada of making biased or favored decisions as the result of case outcomes and reporting done by the Los Angeles Times newspaper (in which it raised the issue of justice for sale).
Original jurisdiction is divided between the District Courts (with general jurisdiction), and Justice Courts and Municipal Courts (both of limited jurisdiction).
The courthouse of the Supreme Court of NevadaIn 1900, Nevada's population was the smallest of all states and was shrinking, as the difficulties of living in a "barren desert" began to outweigh the lure of silver for many early settlers. Historian Lawrence Friedman has explained what happened next:
"Nevada, in a burst of ingenuity, built an economy by exploiting its sovereignty. Its strategy was to legalize all sorts of things that were illegal in California ... after easy divorce came easy marriage and casino gambling. Even prostitution is legal in Nevada, in any county that decides to allow it. Quite a few of them do." With the advent of air conditioning for summertime use and Southern Nevada's mild winters, the fortunes of the state began to turn around, as it did for Arizona, making these two states the fastest growing in the Union.
Prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada (under the form of licensed brothels). It is, however, illegal in Clark County, which contains Las Vegas; Washoe County, which contains Reno; Carson City; and some other counties.
Nevada's early reputation as a "divorce haven" arose from the fact that, prior to the no-fault divorce revolution in the 1970s, divorces were quite difficult to obtain in the United States. Already having legalized gambling and prostitution, Nevada continued the trend of boosting its profile by adopting one of the most liberal divorce statutes in the nation. This resulted in Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U.S. 287 (1942), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina had to give "full faith and credit" to a Nevada divorce.
Nevada's tax laws also draw new residents and businesses to the state. Nevada has no personal income tax or corporate income tax.
Nevada also provides friendly environment for the formation of corporations, and many (especially California) businesspeople have incorporated their businesses in Nevada to take advantage of the benefits of the Nevada statute. Nevada corporations offer great flexibility to the Board of Directors and simplify or avoid many of the rules that are cumbersome to business managers in some other states. In addition, Nevada has no franchise tax.
Similarly, many U.S. states have usury laws limiting the amount of interest a lender can charge, but Federal law allows corporations to 'import' these laws from their home state. Nevada (amongst others) has relatively lax interest laws, in effect allowing banks to charge as much as they want, hence the preponderance of credit card companies in the state.
Drug and alcohol laws
Non-alcohol drug laws are a notable exception to Nevada's otherwise libertarian principles. It is notable for having the harshest penalties for drug offenders in the country. Nevada remains the only state to still use mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for marijuana possession. However, it is now a misdemeanor for possession of less than one ounce but only for persons age 21 and older. In 2006, voters in Nevada defeated attempts to allow possession of 1 ounce of marijuana (for personal use) without being criminally prosecuted, (55% against legalization, 45% in favor of legalization). Also, Nevada is one of the states that allows for use of marijuana for medical reasons (though this remains illegal under federal law).
Nevada has very liberal alcohol laws. Bars are permitted to remain open 24 hours, with no "last call". Liquor stores, convenience stores and supermarkets may also sell alcohol 24 hours per day, and may sell beer, wine and spirits.
Nevada voters enacted a smoking ban ("the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act") in November 2006 that became effective on December 8, 2006. It outlaws smoking in most workplaces and public places. Smoking is permitted in bars, but only if the bar serves no food, or the bar is inside a larger casino. Smoking is also permitted in casinos, hotel rooms, tobacco shops, and brothels. However, some businesses do not obey this law and the government tends not to enforce it. Yet, in one case, they did prosecute an establishment called "Bilbo's." As of 2008, the trial was still pending.
Nevada has been ranked as the most dangerous state in the U.S. for five years in a row, just ahead of Louisiana In 2006, the crime rate in Nevada was approximately 24% higher than the national average rate. Property crimes accounted for approximately 84.6% of the crime rate in Nevada which was 21% higher than the national rate. The remaining 20.3% were violent crimes and were approximately 45% higher than other states. In 2008, Nevada had the third highest murder rate, and the highest rate of robbery and motor vehicle theft It should be noted that many of these statistics may not totally be attributed to the citizens of Nevada themselves, but partially to the high rate of visitors entering and leaving the state as well. In addition, the state's most populous county, Clark (accounting for 75% of the states total population), skews the crime rate for the balance of the state.
Presidential elections results Year Republican Democratic
2008 42.65% 412,827 55.15% 533,736
2004 50.47% 418,690 47.88% 397,190
2000 49.49% 301,575 45.94% 279,978
1996 44.55% 198,775 45.60% 203,388
1992 34.71% 175,828 37.41% 189,148
1988 58.90% 206,040 37.91% 132,738
 State politics
Due to heavy growth in the southern portion of the state, there is a noticeable divide between politics of northern and southern Nevada. The north has long maintained control of key positions in state government, even while the population of Southern Nevada is larger than the rest of the state combined. The north sees the high population south becoming more influential and perhaps commanding majority rule. The south sees the north as the "old guard" trying to rule as an oligarchy. This has fostered some resentment, however, due to a term limit amendment passed by Nevada voters in 1994, and again in 1996, some of the north's hold over key positions will soon be forfeited to the south, leaving Northern Nevada with less power. Most people outside the state are not familiar with this rivalry.
Clark and Washoe counties—home to Las Vegas and Reno, respectively—have long dominated the state's politics. Between them, they cast 87 percent of Nevada's vote, and elect a substantial majority of the state legislature. The great majority of the state's elected officials are either from Las Vegas or Reno.
Nevada has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1912, except in 1976 when it voted for Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter. This gives the state status as a political bellwether.
As of 2008, 43.8% of voters are registered Democrats, 36.1% are Republican and the remaining 20.1% are considered Independents. Nevada supported Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, Republican George W. Bush won in 2000 and 2004, and Democrat Barack Obama won the state in 2008.
The state's U. S. Senators are Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, and Republican John Ensign, former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The Governorship is held by Jim Gibbons, a Republican from Reno.
Further information: Political party strength in Nevada
State departments and agencies:
Department of Business & Industry
Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Consumer Health Assistance
Department of Correction
Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs
Nevada Commission on Economic Development
Department of Education
Nevada Secretary of State, Election Division
Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation
Gaming Control Board
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Information Technology
Department of Justice
Nevada Military Department
Division of Minerals, Commission on Mineral Resources
Department of Motor Vehicles
Nevada National Guard
Department of Personnel
Advisory Council for Prosecuting Attorneys
Public Employees Benefit Program
Public Employees Retirement System
Department of Public Safety
Public Utilities Commission
Department of Secretary of State
Department of Taxation
Commission on Tourism
Department of Transportation
Nevada State Treasurer
Universities and Community Colleges of Nevada
Nevada Office of Veterans' Services
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Nevada Department of Wildlife
Incorporated towns in Nevada, known as cities, are given the authority to legislate anything not prohibited by law. A recent movement has begun to permit home rule in incorporated Nevada cities to give them more flexibility and fewer restrictions from the Legislature.
Unincorporated towns are settlements eminently governed by the county in which they are located, but who, by local referendum or by the act of the county commission, can form limited local governments in the form of a Town Advisory Board (TAB)/ Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), or a Town Board.
Town Advisory Boards and Citizens Advisory Councils are formed purely by act of the county commission. Consisting of three to five members, these elected boards form a purely advisory role, and in no way diminish the responsibilities of the county commission that creates them. Members of advisory councils and boards are elected to two year terms, and serve without compensation. The councils and boards, themselves, are provided no revenue, and oversee no budget.
Town Boards are limited local governments created by either the local county commission, or by referendum. The board consists of five members elected to four-year terms. Half the board is required to be up for election in each election. The board elects from within its ranks a town chairperson and town clerk. While more powerful than Town Advisory Boards and Citizens Advisory Councils, they also serve a largely advisory role, with their funding provided by their local county commission. The local county commission has the power to put before residents of the town a vote on whether to keep or dissolve a town board at any general election. Town boards have the ability to appoint a town manager if they choose to do so.
Important Cities and Towns
Carson CityRank City Population
city limits Land Area
sq. miles Population
per sq mi County
1 Las Vegas 591,536 131.3 4,217.8 Clark
2 Henderson 265,790 79.7 2,200.8 Clark
3 North Las Vegas 216,672 78.5 1,471.0 Clark
4 Reno 214,853 69.1 2,611.4 Washoe
5 Sunrise Manor 195,727 38.2 4,081.8 Clark
6 Paradise 189,958 47.1 3,947.3 Clark
7 Spring Valley 175,581 33.4 3,519.4 Clark
8 Sparks 88,518 23.9 2,773.6 Washoe
9 Carson City 58,350 143.4 366 Carson City
10 Pahrump 44,614 297.9 82.7 Nye
Paradise, Sunrise Manor, and Spring Valley are unincorporated towns in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Rank County Population
county limits Land Area
sq. miles Population
per sq mi Largest city
1 Clark 1,715,337 7,910 174 Las Vegas
2 Washoe 383,453 6,342 54 Reno
3 Carson City 56,146 155.7 366 Carson City
4 Douglas 47,803 710 58 Gardnerville Ranchos
5 Elko 46,499 17,179 3 Elko
6 Lyon 44,646 1,994 17 Fernley
7 Nye 38,181 18,147 2 Pahrump
8 Churchill 26,106 4,929 5 Fallon
9 Humboldt 17,129 9,648 2 Winnemucca
10 White Pine 8,966 8,876 1 Ely
Note: table was compiled using Nevada State estimates from 2004 for population and Census 2000 for area and density
To accommodate Las Vegas Valley large growth a New City called *Coyote Springs is planned and would house up to 240,000 residents and bring in 500,000 more jobs to Las Vegas metropolitan area .
See also: List of cities in Nevada
10 richest places in Nevada
Ranked by per capita income
Incline Village-Crystal Bay $52,521 Washoe County, Nevada
Kingsbury $41,421 Douglas County, Nevada
Mount Charleston $38,821 Clark County, Nevada
Verdi-Mogul $38,233 Washoe County, Nevada
Zephyr Cove-Round Hill Village $37,218 Douglas County, Nevada
Summerlin South $33,017 Clark County, Nevada
Blue Diamond $30,479 Clark County, Nevada
Minden $30,405 Douglas County, Nevada
Boulder City $29,770 Clark County, Nevada
Spanish Springs $26,908 Washoe County, Nevada
Further information: Nevada locations by per capita income
Colleges and universities
Nevada System of Higher Education
University of Nevada, Reno (UNR)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
Nevada State College
Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC)
Great Basin College
College of Southern Nevada (CSN)
Western Nevada College
Sierra Nevada College
Touro University Nevada
University of Southern Nevada
Desert Research Institute
Parks and recreation areas
Valley of Fire State Park Recreation areas maintained by the National Park Service
Great Basin National ParkCalifornia National Historic Trail
Death Valley National Park
Great Basin National Park near Baker
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Mount CharlestonAsh Meadows National Wildlife Preserve
Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Mount Charleston and the Mount Charleston Wilderness
Spring Mountains and the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Further information: List of wilderness areas in Nevada
There are 68 designated wilderness areas in Nevada, protecting some 6,579,014 acres (26,624.33 km2) under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.
See: List of Nevada state parks.
Although Nevada is not well-known for its professional sports, the state takes pride in college sports, most notably the University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack of the Western Athletic Conference and the UNLV Runnin' Rebels of the Mountain West Conference.
UNLV is most remembered for their basketball program, which experienced its height of supremacy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Coached by Jerry Tarkanian, the Runnin' Rebels became one of the most elite programs in the country. In 1990, UNLV won the Men's Division I Championship by defeating Duke University 103–73, which set tournament records for most points scored by a team and largest margin of victory in the national title game. In 1991, UNLV finished the regular season undefeated. Forward Larry Johnson won several awards, including the Naismith Award. UNLV reached the Final Four yet again, but lost their national semifinal against Duke 79-77, and is referred to as one of the biggest upsets in the NCAA Tournament. The Runnin' Rebels were the Associated Press pre-season #1 back to back (1989–90, 1990–91). North Carolina is the only other team to accomplish that (2007-08, 2008-09).
Complete List of Nevada sports teams. Professional
Las Vegas Locomotives, United Football League
Las Vegas 51s, Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Las Vegas Wranglers, ECHL
Battle Born Derby Demons, Roller Derby
Reno Aces, Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Reno Bighorns, NBA D-League
Reno Silver Sox, Golden Baseball League (defunct)
Reno Raiders, ECHL (defunct)
Las Vegas Posse, Canadian Football League (defunct)
Las Vegas Outlaws, XFL (defunct)
Nevada Wolf Pack, UNR
The state is also home to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Several United States Navy ships have been named USS Nevada in honor of the state. They include:
USS Nevada (BM-8)
USS Nevada (BB-36)
USS Nevada (SSBN-733)
Nevada is home to Nellis Air Force Base, a major testing and training base of the United States Air Force. Nellis is reputedly the home of Area 51, a top-secret installation of the Federal Government. Area 51 is located near Groom Lake a dry salt lake bed. Some time ago, the United States Air Force confirmed that there is an operating facility at Groom Lake, but the nature of the activities being conducted at Groom Lake are classified and cannot be disclosed. The much smaller Creech Air Force Base is located in Indian Springs, Nevada. Naval Air Station Fallon is located in Fallon. Hawthorne Army Depot is in Hawthorne. Tonopah Test Range near Tonopah.
These bases host a number of activities including the Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Nevada Test and Training Range, Red Flag, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the United States Air Force Warfare Center, the United States Air Force Weapons School, and the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School.
Songs about Nevada
Sands of Nevada from Mark Knopfler's 2000 release Sailing to Philadelphia
Sin City from AC/DC's Powerage album
Sin City from Limbeck's 2005 release Let Me Come Home
Home Means Nevada, the state song of Nevada, by Bertha Rafetto
"Nevada" by Riders in the Sky from the album Best of the West
Nevada enjoys many economic advantages as a whole, and the southern portion of the state enjoys mild winter weather, but rapid growth has led to issues of overcrowded roads and schools. Nevada is already home to the nation's 5th largest school district in the Clark County School District (projected fall 2007 enrollment is 314,000 students grades K-12), the state has seen rising crime levels annually , and problems with transportation (according to state figures, there is a 1 billion dollar shortfall in funds for road construction projects in Nevada). Most recently, there has been news of water shortfalls in southern Nevada in the years to come, due to the population increase, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates that there will be water shortages by the year 2020. The authority is working on plans to import water from the low populated area of northern Nevada. The state remains one of the fastest growing in the country.
The residents of the communities in the Las Vegas Valley pay some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation.
Some residents of the town of Wendover, Utah have expressed interest in being annexed by the state of Nevada so the town may merge with West Wendover, Nevada. There has also been interest by Needles, California in being annexed. These deals will require permission of the Nevada and Utah/California legislatures, respectively, as well as the approval of the U.S. Congress.
In 2008, the "American State Litter Scorecard," presented at the American Society for Public Administration national conference, positioned Nevada next to Mississippi and Louisiana as one of the worst states for removing litter from public roadways and properties.
Recently, an economic downturn due to the housing market collapse in Las Vegas (which has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation), coupled with many months of declining gaming revenue and higher prices for gasoline and consumer goods, has caused a 1.2 billion dollar shortfall in the state budget (which is required by the constitution to be balanced). Thus, the state government of Nevada had to dip into its rainy day fund of $267 million. In August 2008, it was announced that Boyd Gaming would halt construction on a 4.2 billion dollar project called Echelon, which was to replace the old Stardust Hotel & Casino. The reason cited for this is lack of funding/credit from banks.